Self-esteem and self-efficacy in the status attainment process and the multigenerational transmission of advantage

Kaspar Burger, Jeylan Mortimer, Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Despite considerable evidence of the importance of self-esteem and self-efficacy for agentic, goal-oriented behavior, little attention has been directed to these psychological dimensions in the status attainment literature. The present research uses data from the longitudinal, three-generation Youth Development Study (N = 422 three-generation triads) to examine the extent to which adolescent self-esteem and economic self-efficacy affect adult educational and income attainment, and whether these psychological resources are transmitted from one generation to the next, accumulating advantage across generations. We present evidence indicating that both self-esteem and economic self-efficacy are implicated in the attainment process. Adolescent economic self-efficacy had a direct positive effect on adult educational attainment and an indirect effect through educational plans. The influence of self-esteem on adult educational attainment was entirely indirect, through school achievement. We also find evidence that economic self-efficacy was transmitted from parents to children. We conclude that future research should more broadly consider psychological resources in attainment processes from a longitudinal multigenerational perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102374
JournalSocial Science Research
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Adolescence
  • Life course
  • Psychological resources
  • Self-appraisals
  • Social psychology
  • Three-generation study

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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